Best waterproof mascara UK, tried and tested — I tried 13 of the best all-weather mascaras to carry you through autumn

Best waterproof mascara UK, tried and tested — I tried 13 of the best all-weather mascaras to carry you through autumn

A GOOD mascara is a makeup bag essential.

Not only does it lengthen lashes, helping eyes to pop and look more awake, but it adds colour and intensity for stand out eyes.

The best waterproof mascaras ensure that no matter what form of fluid comes your way — whether it be rain, sweat or tears — your lashes will stay as they are, and you won’t be left with panda eyes or streaks of black running down your cheeks.

Mascara is one of two makeup items that I will wear every day without fail. The other is bronzer.

As someone who gyms heavily, sweats buckets, moves around a lot, always battles unpredictable UK weather and is pretty emotional (cue: tears of laughter and despair), I need a mascara that lasts. 

Writer Lucy tested out 13 of the best waterproof mascaras on the market
Writer Lucy tested out 13 of the best waterproof mascaras on the marketCredit: Lucy Gornall

I’m forever trying new mascaras, from spenny ones that I apply sparingly as if on mascara rations to cheaper ones that I throw in my gym bag for everyday use. So testing out this batch of waterproof mascaras was the perfect job for me.

In the market for a new mascara that won’t budge? Try one of these, to suit every budget…

Mac Mascara in Extreme Dimension Waterproof

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Credit: Lucy Gornall
  • Mac Mascara in Extreme Dimension Waterproof, £25 from Look Fantastic – buy here

Pros: Seriously thick, great brush
Cons: Quite expensive

Mac says that this is a lightweight, whipped mascara, and I can see why.

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Honestly, this is hands down one of my favourite mascaras as the wand seamlessly pulls out of the tube, with just enough mascara liquid on the brush.

Applying this mascara is like a dream; I didn’t need many coats for a voluminous, dark look, and despite a few clumps lingering on the brush, my lashes were clump free.

I loved the look of my lashes after applying this Mac mascara, and it lasted throughout a gym workout, a shower, and the rest of my day.

Plus, when I applied this mascara, the entire lash was coated from root to tip and there was zero smudging. 

Hands down, this mascara is worth every penny and I am already recommending it to all my friends and family. 

Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Waterproof Mascara

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Credit: Lucy Gornall
  • Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Waterproof Mascara, £29 £23.20 from Look Fantastic – buy here

Pros: Sleek bottle, curved brush grabs all lashes
Cons: Expensive

Lancome is a dream brand; its products just do what they claim, and they do it well.

This mascara is essentially the waterproof version of the cult Hypnôse Drama Mascara, and it’s just as good.

I love Lancome packaging; it’s sleek and chic and always looks expensive. For just under £30, though, you’d hope this mascara looks expensive — it costs the equivalent of my weekly food shop. 

The curved brush of this mascara latched on to every one of my lashes, and gave my eyes a really nice wide-open look. This is ideal on those mornings when a lack of sleep leaves your eyes looking half closed.

Lancome says that the waterproof formula of this mascara has up to 24-hour hold, and I can certainly vouch for the claim that it stays put. I had dark eyes and long lashes all day long! Even my tiny lashes were caught by this brush.

Taking this mascara off was also simple and I wasn’t left with awful panda eyes or clumps of mascara that wouldn’t budge.

Benefit Badgal Bang Waterproof Mascara

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Credit: Lucy Gornall
  • Benefit Badgal Bang Waterproof Mascara, £25.50 £20.40 from Boots – buy here

Pros: Catches every lash, don’t need many coats to achieve an intense black
Cons: A thicker brush would be nice

I wore this to the gym and for the rest of my day and it didn’t smudge or budge, so I know this is a reliable mascara.

The bottle is beautifully designed and Benefit tends to be one of those brands that looks good on your bathroom shelf or in your makeup bag. 

I will say that I prefer a thicker brush, and when I pulled this brush out of the tube, I didn’t feel like it would do a great job. But having said that, I managed to achieve a pretty dark intense lash-look with just a couple of coats and the brush definitely caught every lash, from root to tip, as the product claims.

It caught even the small lashes on the bottom, which I often find end up carrying big mascara clumps. 

This mascara also contains provitamin B5 which apparently is known to fuel thickness, so that’s a bonus.

Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Waterproof Mascara

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Credit: Lucy Gornall
  • Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Waterproof Mascara, £11.99 £9.11 from Amazon – buy here

Pros: Love the bottle, cheaper than some alternatives, stayed in place all day
Cons: Ever so slightly clumpy

As Maybelline would say: “Maybe she’s born with it; maybe it’s Maybelline.’

Well, I wasn’t born with incredibly long lashes, but this Maybelline mascara certainly gave me the volume and length I was after.

This lasted through a sweaty run and through the rest of my day, but came off easily when I finally went to bed in the evening. During the day, though, it didn’t budge an inch.

The price is mid-range, which makes it more affordable than many others, and Maybelline is one of those brands you can just rely on. It’s a household name, after all. 

I liked how the brush smoothly pulled out of the bottle, and the brush definitely latched on to all my lashes really well. Plus, the mascara formula has apparently been ‘infused with bamboo extract and fibres for long, full lashes that never get weighed down’.

This mascara was ever so slightly clumpy on the smaller lashes, but it wasn’t too much of a problem. 

I’ll definitely be keeping this in my handbag going forward. 

Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara

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Credit: Lucy Gornall
  • Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara, £24 £21.60 from Boots – buy here

Pros: No clumps, smooth application, brush seamlessly pulls out of tube
Cons: None

When a mascara starts to veer above the £15 mark, I do expect good things.

Clinique hasn’t disappointed with this mascara; the brush pulls effortlessly out of the tube which is incredibly satisfying and it feels like a nice, expensive product. 

I didn’t need many coats to really get a bold colour, and the brush caught every lash easily, with no clumps. Plus, it stuck all day through a workout and a full out and about in the city. There was also no smudging around the eyes.

Clinique also says this is ideal for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers too, so you can rest safe in the knowledge that eyes won’t suffer.

Another point I will make about Clinique is that its products always feel ‘clean’’, from the nice, natural green packaging (including this mascara tube) to the feel of the product itself, which always does what it says without feeling heavy or chemical-heavy.

Boots No7 Intense Volume Waterproof Mascara

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Credit: Lucy Gornall
  • No7 Intense Volume Waterproof Mascara, £9.95 £7.96 from Boots – buy here

Pros: Thick brush, leaves zero clumps, good price point
Cons: Several layers needed to achieve an intense colour

Another brand that can pretty much always be relied on is Boots’ No7.

This waterproof mascara is most certainly waterproof, and only smudged slightly when I rubbed my wet eyes after coming out of the shower; pretty impressive considering how soaked my face was.

I like the brush and how smooth it comes out of the tube, and I like how nice it feels to apply to lashes. I picked up even the smallest of lashes with this mascara wand, though I did need several coats to really get the dark black colour that I love.

I wore this on a Saturday morning following a measly five hours of sleep and it definitely helped me to look more awake. Sometimes, you just need to fake it till you make it!

Collection Lash Surge Waterproof Mascara

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Credit: Lucy Gornall
  • Collection Lash Surge Mascara, £5.49 from Boots – buy here

Pros: Smells delicious, dark intense colour
Cons: Brush gets a little clumpy, smudges

The dual wand applicator that comes with this mascara means that an even amount of product is layered on the lashes, so there’s fewer clumps and less smudging under the eyes, which is ideal for people like me who are always applying their makeup in a rush.

However, over the course of a morning I did notice some smudging from this mascara which was annoying as I didn’t realise until I looked in a mirror and had to do a cheeky little undereye sweep with my finger.

Generally though, a good amount of mascara came out when I applied this and I did only need a couple of coats for a really intense set of lashes.

Several of the more expensive mascaras didn’t have this level of intensity, so that’s a big positive for this bargain five quid product.

Mavala Volume and Length Waterproof Mascara

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Credit: Lucy Gornall
  • Mavala Volume and Length Waterproof Mascara, £19.40 from Nail Polish Direct – buy here

Pros: Great price, contains healthy ingredients
Cons: A bit clumpy

The Mavala mascara comes in a bottle that looks nothing like the others we tested. It’s white for starters and it looks almost slightly medical, as though it’s filled with health perks.

That sounds odd for a mascara, but when I researched the ingredients, it turns out there are actually several lash boosting benefits. 

It’s protein enriched, offering lashes extra nourishment, while antioxidant ingredients hydrate lashes. Meanwhile, Bisabolol is soothing, meaning less irritation. This makes it great for sensitive eyes. 

I like the brush as it’s thick and contains zero clumps, plus it just glides out of the tube really nicely. Applying this mascara was a dream as it slid onto my lashes without any bumps and it latched onto every lash offering a nice intense dark colour.

You can pick up this mascara in several different shades too, so if you don’t fancy black, like me, you could opt for a blue or even a plum shade.

Catrice Glam & Doll False Lashes Waterproof Mascara

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Credit: Lucy Gornall
  • Catrice Glam & Doll False Lashes Waterproof Mascara, £3.40 from Notino – buy here

Pros: Lovely design, smooth application
Cons: Brush feels quite thin, took a few coats to see visible difference

This is another bargain mascara which is ideal for carrying around in your handbag. It costs less than a fiver, so I didn’t feel too precious about it and if I had lost it, I wouldn’t have had a meltdown. 

The brush is curved slightly which contributes to the ‘Glam and Doll False Lash effect’ as it latches to every lash for a really wide-eye appearance. But, I needed several coats to see a big difference and the brush did feel quite thin. 

I did like the fact that the mascara lived up to its waterproof claim as it didn’t budge at all throughout the day and I didn’t need to reapply either.

Again, this mascara just goes to show that the cheaper options can deliver really good results.

Freezeframe Instant Lash Xtreme

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Credit: Lucy Gornall
  • Instant Lash Xtreme, £38 from Freeze Frame – buy here

Pros: Comes off easily, clings to every lash, sob-proof (I wore it to a wedding)
Cons: Very expensive, not as bold as I’d like

I was hoping for the crème de la crème of mascaras with this one, considering its eye-wateringly high price. 

It didn’t disappoint.

The aim of this mascara is to give the look of professional lash extensions. I’m not sure if it did that, but it certainly brushed on incredibly smoothly, opened up my eyes and stayed put during a very teary wedding ceremony.

I loved the brush too, which caught every lash and made me look awake and alert (despite a groggy wine head…).

Despite this mascara being budge-proof when I cried and sweated, it was easy to remove at the end of the day, which is always a good thing as I find that overly rubbing my eyes to remove makeup ruins the thin skin that sits around my peepers.

Essence Lash Princess False Lash Waterproof Mascara

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Credit: Lucy Gornall
  • Essence Lash Princess False Lash Waterproof Mascara, £3.29 from Just My Look – buy here

Pros: No clumps, total bargain, very sweat proof
Cons: Requires reapplication

Essence is a brand that’s been around for a while, and it’s notorious for its low price-point products.

But low price doesn’t mean bad quality, as this mascara proves.

It stood the test of time when I wore it in the gym during a brutally sweaty boxing session on a Friday morning. There was minimal smudging around the eyes, and when I rubbed my eyes with a towel, I didn’t end up looking like a panda. 

Much like the other cheaper mascaras, you do need a fair few coats to really see the benefit of high impact lashes, but there was actually minimal clumping on the lashes when I applied this mascara and the colour itself is dark. 

I did reapply a couple of times during the day but this was more so that my lashes were lengthened as opposed to wanting a darker eye. 

Big fan of this one; it’s made it into the gym bag makeup case already.

Essence I Love Extreme Crazy Volume Waterproof Mascara

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Credit: Lucy Gornall
  • Essence I Love Extreme Crazy Volume Waterproof Mascara, £2.45 (campaign price) from Luxplus – buy here

Pros: Smells lovely, thick and bold, great brush, latched onto every lash, super cheap
Cons: Smudged a little, hard to get off completely

A £2.45 mascara that’s actually decent is hard to come by. Until now.

For anyone wanting a cheaper option that works, then this fits the bill. The brush is super thick and although I did need to apply several coats, the brush did grab every lash, giving an even coating of mascara. 

Plus, as the name suggests, this mascara does offer mega volume; my eyes were dark! A gym workout, Pilates, meeting and a dinner date were no bother for this mascara as it stayed put throughout.

It was a little tricky to take off, but for £2.99, I really cannot fault this.

Catrice Pure Volume Mascara Waterproof

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Credit: Lucy Gornall
  • Catrice Pure Volume Mascara Waterproof, £3.95 from Just My Look – buy here

Pros: Feels expensive, thick brush
Cons: A little clumpy

The first thing I noticed about this bargain mascara was how totally non-bargain it felt. The tube feels quality and I love the gold lid. 

Luckily, the mascara itself is of a decent quality. I actually got caught in a classic British downpour whilst wearing this, with zero brolly or hood. My face was dripping, yet my cheap as chips mascara stayed put. So it’s certainly waterproof. 

As for the mascara itself, it applies beautifully, and every lash was caught by the brush.

I did apply a few layers for the darkness I desire, but this is my personal preference. As I am dark haired, I like my lashes to be extra dark! 

This mascara is also enriched with ricinus oil and almond oil to help nourish lashes and promote hair-growth, so I was pretty happy knowing that I was showing my lashes plenty of love. 

How to remove waterproof mascara

International makeup artist and content creator Sophia Brad says that a cleansing balm or oil based cleanser is the best way to remove waterproof mascara.

“Gently massage your closed eyes, feeling how the mascara is dissolving and then rinse it off with warm water or a wipe with a damp cloth,” she says.

“I often double cleanse either with a gel or mousse cleanser or micellar water. Keep in mind that any waterproof product takes a bit longer to remove, so be patient. Needless to say as you’re dealing with your eye area it’s important to be gentle.”

What to look for in a waterproof mascara

“One thing to look for is the word ‘waterproof’ rather than ‘water-resistant’, explains Sophia.

“Just like any other mascara it’s down to the effect you want it to have on your lashes, may it be volume, length, curl, etc.

“Waterproof mascaras tend to feel less wet at application as they contain waxes and some of them contain traces of alcohol, and therefore will dry quicker which also means that after using it for a couple of months some of them can start to crumble a few hours into wearing them. So if you’re a contact lens wearer this might cause you some mild irritation.

“This will be your sign to replace your waterproof mascara – probably sooner then your regular mascara.”

How to stop waterproof mascara from smudging

There is in fact a nifty card trick you can try to neaten up your mascara application.


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“Position a business card or bank card on your moving eyelid, apply your mascara and any smudges will end up on the card rather than your eyelid,” says Sophia.

“The rule with any fresh mascara smudges is to let them dry and then remove them with a cotton bud.”

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Kieran Ahuja

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